The Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park was founded by Dian Fossey on 24 September 1967, to study endangered mountain gorillas. Fossey located the camp in Rwanda’s Virunga volcanic mountain range, between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke, and named it by combining the names of the two mountains.
The camp continued to function even after Fossey’s murder in December 1985, under the auspices of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. In 2012, Karisoke moved its headquarters to a more modern facility in Musanze.
At the time Fossey founded Karisoke, she feared that the mountain gorilla might become extinct by the end of the 20th century, as her mentor, Dr. Louis Leakey, had warned. A census published in 1981 found that the population had fallen to 242 individuals, from a 1960 estimate of 400-500.
Now, 45 years later, some 480 mountain gorillas are known to inhabit the Virunga mountains (according to a 2010 census), a significant increase. Karisoke survived Fossey’s murder in 1985 as well as years of civil strife, and also expanded tremendously over the past few decades.